Pompey: Jack’s back as reserves draw with Foxes

Conor Chaplin in action for Pompey's reserves against Leicester City. Picture: Colin Farmery
Conor Chaplin in action for Pompey's reserves against Leicester City. Picture: Colin Farmery
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Jack Whatmough’s long-awaited comeback ended in a 1-1 draw as Pompey’s reserves finished all-square with Leicester under-23s.

The clash marked Whatmough’s Blues return following five months on the sidelines with knee ligament damage, and looked comfortable during his scheduled 45 minutes.

Brandon Haunstrup was also back in action after collecting an injury in training six weeks ago, featuring for 67 minutes.

Meanwhile, there was the surprise presence of Jonathan Douglas in the centre of midfield, with both Kenny Jackett and assistant Joe Gallen in attendance.

The 36-year-old has been a free agent since leaving Ipswich in the summer following 62 appearances and three goals during a two-year stay with the Championship club.

It had appeared the Premier League Cup clash would be settled by substitute Leon Maloney’s 70th minute strike.

However, Josh Eppiah levelled for the Foxes four minutes from time to end Pompey’s qualification hopes from Group F in their final fixture.

When kick off got underway, Pompey had their first attacking moment through a Theo Widdrington free-kick on three minutes, however his low right-footed delivery from the left drifted just wide of the near post.

Moments later, the midfielder was handed another opportunity, this time from 30 yards, but again it lacked pace and direction as it comfortably skidded wide.

On six minutes, Conor Chaplin clipped in a dangerous cross with the outside of his foot from the left, the ball finding its way to Dan Smith at the far post, but his header was wide.

Whatmough tried his luck from 25-yards with a rising effort which cleared the crossbar without troubling keeper Max Bramley.

But the Blues should have taken the lead on 26 minutes when Bradley Lethbridge delivered an excellent cross from the left after reaching the byline.

He located Smith at the far post, yet the youngster headed it over from six-yards when the lead was beckoning for the hosts, afterwards kicking the post in frustration at his wastefulness.

At the other end, Alex Bass was forced into a low save by his near post following Hamza Choudhury’s powerful strike from the edge of the area on 33 minutes.

As scheduled, Whatmough was replaced at half-time by Joe Hancott as Pompey ease him back into action, while Leicester made two changes.

Within minutes of the restart, Bass produced a smart diving stop in a packed penalty area to keep out Harvey Barnes’ shot.

On 52 minutes, the injured Lethbridge was replaced by Maloney, the striker having to be helped to the dressing room by two members of Pompey’s backroom.

Yet Leicester were looking far better attacking proposition in the second half, inspired by lively substitute Liandro Martis.

Bass then produced a superb double save to firstly deny Barnes and then the fierce close-range follow up from Eppiah.

But in the 70th minute it was the Blues who took the lead, Maloney converting following a cross from the right.

Leicester piled on the pressure and in the 86th minute snatched an equaliser through Eppiah to finally beat Bass.

The visitors should have won the match in stoppage time, only for Choudhury to blaze over from four yards out after Bass had initially saved.

As it was, the match finished in a draw - and an encouraging return for both Whatmough and Haunstrup.